Fandom: Guiding Light
Rating: R to NC-17
Notes: PLEASE READ This is a dark, angst-filled story with ADULT themes. It is not graphically violent or gratuitous in nature, but it can be quite dark. For those of you who read and enjoyed "Whatever It Takes," this story takes place shortly after. Completely different tone, though, so be prepared. If you haven't read WIT, it's not necessary but it is helpful.
I'm not 100% sure, but I feel like this is entirely new territory for Olivia & Natalia. Your comments are greatly appreciated.
ETA: Thanks for the immense outpouring of support for this story. I was nervous, I'll admit, but you've been amazingly insightful and supportive. Thank you x1000.
Chapter Two (NC-17)
Chapter Five - (NC-17)
Chapter Eight (NC-17)
When Olivia and Natalia returned to the farmhouse the next morning, Natalia still flush with tears shed during Rafe's final pre-dawn sendoff, something smelled utterly fantastic. The night before Natalia had scurried around, scrubbing every last pot and pan and piece of cutlery, while Olivia and Pierce tried to convince her to leave it all be and join them in lighting sparklers and eating leftover pie in the darkened yard. But Olivia knew better, and gave up after only her second or third try, knowing full well that Natalia wouldn't rest until the house was cleaner than it was before the party. And Olivia secretly adored that Natalia knew she was the complete opposite, content to let the dish water sit all night, cold and grey, until morning.
But it was surprising that, despite hearing Rafe plod up the stairs at nearly four A.M., and with the military's cruel joke of a wake-up call less than ninety minutes away, Natalia hadn't risen to make her son one final breakfast, or at least shove some kind of baked good in his mouth as they hurried out the door. She must've been exhausted, both mentally and physically, to let that moment slip by. It was very unlike her, and the thought still nagged at Olivia as they entered the house, one child on his way to war, the other on the couch still half-asleep.
"Emma," Olivia pressed her words into her daughter's hair, a light kiss on the crown of her head. "Pierce in the kitchen?"
The little girl nodded and rubbed her eyes. "She woke me up asking me where we kept the real butter."
Natalia laughed lightly. "Did you tell her I tossed all that stuff out when--"
"I told her you hide it in the old margarine tub, behind the baking soda, so Natalia won't find it."
Olivia winced and squeezed her eyes shut, hoping her face would somehow look as angelic and innocent as Emma's did, all ruddy and crisscrossed with pillow creases. Judging by Natalia's decidedly firm pinch of her arm as she strode past, Olivia had no such luck.
"You're horrible, you know that? What with your heart and everything else... Why do I even bother?"
She wagged a finger at her daughter. "Tattle tale."
When Emma just shrugged and fell against the couch cushions, Olivia followed Natalia into the kitchen, placing her hands flat atop the other woman's shoulders as she caught up to her. "I love you, mama."
"Yeah, yeah," Natalia dismissed her with a wave of her hand, but couldn't hide a smile. "What smells so good in here?"
Pierce's head appeared from behind the refrigerator door. "French toast. Old family recipe. Very intricate, insanely complicated. Wanted to do something nice since... I know you guys had a rough night and a rougher morning. Not rude of me, is it?"
While Natalia assured her it was anything but rude, Olivia took a seat at the table. She watched the interplay between her wife and her friend, and a bemused smile crept across her face.
"Okay, secret recipe? I can keep a secret." Natalia nibbled on a crust of bread and leaned her back against the countertop, watching Pierce whisk eggs in a metal bowl.
Pierce cocked an eyebrow. "How do I know I can trust you? How do I know your not some culinary spy?"
Natalia summoned forth a dimpled smile, and Olivia suddenly felt invisible. "Horse trade. You tell me yours, I'll tell you mine."
"Ahh," Pierce tossed her head back. "I dunno, Natalia. I much prefer 'you show me yours, i'll show you--'"
"Uh, hello? Casanova?" Olivia cleared her throat and pressed her lips into a scowl. "I'm sitting right here, you know."
The young girl let the whisk rattle against the bowl, and pointed two fingers at herself. "Me? I was talking about the eggs. Don't have the foggiest idea..."
"Ohh, Olivia. My sweet," Natalia shoved off the counter's edge and threw her arms around Olivia's neck, bringing her face to rest against hers. "Sweet little jealous maniac. It's cute, isn't it?" She raised her eyes to Pierce.
"Cute is not a word I would use to describe Olivia Spencer," she snorted. "More like, menacing."
"Persistent," Natalia nuzzled her nose against Olivia's cheek, and the older woman simply rolled her eyes.
Pierce volleyed back. "Unruly."
"A little stubborn," Natalia admitted.
"Displeased," Olivia interjected flatly.
"Oh alright, that's enough," Natalia laughed and placed a quick kiss on Olivia's cheek before settling into the chair next to her. "But I guess if I had to think about it, you are kinda my type."
Olivia's head spun round to fix on Natalia, who was giggling to herself as she arranged plates and silverware on the table. Pierce had stopped slicing bread and held the knife in mid-air, confused.
"Your type?" Olivia waited for Natalia to meet her gaze. When she did, the younger woman looked surprised.
"What? What'd I say?"
Pierce just sighed and shook her head, continuing on with the breakfast preparations.
When Olivia responded only with narrowed eyes, Natalia repeated herself. "What did I say?"
"Your type. You said Pierce is your 'type'." She made quotations in the air with her fingers. "I guess I'm slightly confused. Didn't think you... looked at... women-- other women-- that way."
And she meant it. She wasn't mad, not by a long shot, but she was a bit puzzled. Since they'd been together, Olivia had certainly had her moments, with her eyes newly opened to the same sex, where she'd wondered just what it all meant for her, personally. But Natalia was something else. Olivia just assumed Natalia would rather not look any deeper into that well.
"Oh Olivia, honestly." Now it was Natalia's turn to roll her eyes. "Olivia has this habit of underestimating me," Natalia addressed Pierce who, perhaps feeling uncomfortable, remained steadfastly focused on the french toast. "While you were gone, you know," she turned back to Olivia. "A friend took me out. I wasn't looking at other women. But I did notice them."
"A friend? What friend?" Olivia's voice sounded more suspicious than she'd intended, so she softened her brow. "I mean, anyone I know?"
"Do you remember Kevin? He waited on us, the day you proposed? I had met him once before?"
Olivia groaned. "Oh, right. The night you had to drag my drunk ass out of the bar."
"Yes, that night. Well I went back to walk around one day. Emma was on a school trip and I was alone for the weekend."
"You went back there? Alone? To the gayest part of Illinois this side of Boystown? Brava." The smile returned to Olivia's face, and she was rewarded with Natalia playfully tossing a napkin at her. "And?"
"And we met up for dinner. Stayed around to watch a band play. There were... all kinds of people there. Gay, straight, men... women."
Pierce turned around, snapping the burner on the stove to the 'off' position. "I'm sorry, but this is just too good to pretend like I'm not listening. And?" She plopped down alongside Olivia at the table.
Natalia laughed at all the fuss. "I can't believe you two. It's nothing. Nothing happened. We just... I just... it was interesting to see, that's all. I'd never really... I mean, you and I," she looked at Olivia. "We're kind of the only gay couple I know." After a beat she must've realized how funny that sounded, because her face crinkled into a question. "We're gay, together. But maybe..."
Olivia leaned back in her chair. "No, no. Don't stop there. Maybe...?"
Now Natalia's face reddened. "Oh I don't know. I don't know what the heck I'm saying."
"Does she always talk like June Cleaver?" Pierce whispered out of the side of her mouth, and Olivia nodded, trying not to laugh.
"Oh, screw off," Natalia said defiantly. "I don't know. I thought... I thought some of the women were very attractive. Soft, feminine... but strong and... I don't know. I hate you both."
She slumped over her coffee mug and absently added more sugar, while Olivia and Pierce just stared at her.
"So what you're saying is if you met me at bar, you'd let me pick you up." Pierce puffed out her chest and Olivia flared her nostrils at her.
"If I met you at a bar I would immediately drag you out and tell you to go to a meeting," Natalia answered matter-of-factly, without looking up.
Pierce laughed. "You know what I mean."
"Hey," Olivia reached over and stopped Natalia's frantic stirring with a gentle touch. "Nevermind. We're just teasing you. I'm glad you--"
"I had a teacher when I was in high school," Natalia blew past the stop sign Olivia had put up for her. "She was perfect in every way. Before... before I got involved with Nicky, before I... you know... she was all I ever thought about. She had pin-straight hair and the clothes I always dreamed I'd wear and she was smart and articulate. I thought I wanted to be her. I assumed that's what it was, you know? I idolized her."
Olivia looked to Pierce. This was her area, after all. Not just as a sponsor used to facilitating self-discovery on a regular basis, but also as the most senior lesbian at the table. It pained Olivia to admit it, but in the world of same-sex awareness, she was learning she was the lowest on the totem pole, even behind Natalia.
"And after your night with Kevin? After you saw all those other couples, women, just out havin' a good time?" Pierce picked up the cue and helped Natalia along.
"I think I was in love with her," Natalia spoke softly but confidently, squeezing Olivia's hand. "I think I was in love with her all that time."
Olivia sat and waited for Natalia's brown eyes to meet her own, and when they did, she smiled wryly. "Dammit," Olivia whispered. "I so loved being your first lady love."
Natalia laughed through a few tears that fell down her cheeks. "You're prettier, if that helps."
"Indeed it does," Olivia nodded. "You okay... with all that?"
Pierce got up from the table and began to heat up the pan once again.
"I think so. I mean, I don't know what it all means, exactly. What it meant for me and Nicky... for everything... that lead to Rafe... and everything after. But I think I'm okay with it. I still have a lot of questions I need to answer first."
"The only question that matters is," Pierce pointed a spatula at Natalia. "Were you shitting me or not? You think I'm cute, don't you?"
Natalia smiled, and then looked innocently at Olivia. She shrugged her shoulders. "What? I can't help it! There's something so mysterious about those eyes and that attitude!"
"And the shaggy mop of hair, and the questionable hygiene," Olivia added. "Remind me never to leave you two alone, okay?"
"Ahh, relax Spence. Besides, we're more like..." Pierce trailed off, returning her attention to the stove.
"We're more like family," Natalia finished.
Olivia stretched her arms over head with a wince. "Where's that damn french toast, Pierce? Shit, I'm starving."
"Coming right up," Pierce slid a plate in front of Olivia, and then one in front of Natalia. "Yours with an extra side of gay, on the house."
Natalia dropped her face into her hands with a slapping sound. "I'm never going to live this down, am I?"
"We're going to have to buy her a Subaru," Olivia managed through a mouthful of french toast.
Pierce howled. "But for the love of god please do not let her near a pair of hideous sandals."
Natalia let her fork hit the plate with a loud clatter. "Olivia and I are thinking about having another baby."
The bombshell was followed by a mushroom cloud of silence, and it hung in the air for what felt like forever. Olivia let her mouth hang open, unable to force it shut. Yes, they had discussed it, but Olivia didn't like the idea of Pierce knowing, probably because she feared her sponsor would think it a terrible idea so early in her recovery. She hadn't said as much to Natalia, but she was cursing herself now. They certainly didn't need a third party's disapproval to add to their worries.
Pierce knitted her brow in that way that she always did, an ambiguous reflex that gave no intimation of her thoughts. Then, she shrugged.
"That's really great. I'm glad you both feel strong enough to consider something like that."
When Pierce continued eating, not only did Olivia look disappointed, but now Natalia did as well. So Olivia spoke up. "That's it? That's all you have to say?"
"Well what else would I say? No I will not be your sperm donor. I'm not ready for a child, and besides, I think it'd be awkward."
Olivia frowned. "You need help."
"What I need," Pierce reached across the table and spread her fingers wide, wagging them. "Is some syrup. Give it here."
Olivia placed the glass bottle in her hand, but before she let it go, she spoke. "It'd be nice if my sponsor wasn't thousands of miles away. You know, to help us both through."
Pierce fought with the sticky cap, then gave up, and met Olivia's stare. "I'll miss the surfing and the bikinis."
"You need a real job. One that actually pays. And some friends that don't call you drunk in the middle of the night."
"I dunno, it's insanely hard to move a sixty gallon saltwater fish tank across--"
"You need a family," Natalia said plainly.
Pierce bit her lip and blinked back tears. Then she smiled and turned to Olivia. She tilted her heads towards Natalia. "Tell the ol' lesbo I'll think about it."
"It's impossible for me to have a conversation with you like this."
"Well," Natalia's voice strained slightly as she stood up, deliberately, first drawing one foot beneath her, then the other, then rising in an oddly flowing motion. "You're the one who said it couldn't wait."
Olivia watched Natalia raise her arms above her head, then lift one leg off the ground, her balance appearing effortless. "Is this spiritual for you? Does it... should I leave?"
The younger woman shook her head at Olivia's sudden change of direction. Her brown hair bounced and brushed against her bared shoulders, and for a moment Olivia's mind wandered somewhere erotic and dreamy. "You're all over the map, Olivia. What is it exactly you want to talk about? I'll be done in five minutes."
Olivia let herself fall silent, content to watch Natalia from the edge of the bed. Her movements were graceful and natural, slow but with a definite rhythm. She could hear her breathing, and before she knew it, Olivia had closed her eyes. There was something so peaceful, so comforting about the sound of her lover's breaths, deep and even. It wasn't until she felt Natalia's lips on her own that she even realized she'd fallen asleep.
"You in there?" She felt Natalia's words against her mouth. Sliding her eyes open, she was greeted by that inimitably perfect smile, bright, focused eyes and olive skin that glistened with a fine sheen of sweat. She truly loved her wife.
"Hm, must've dozed off. You all done?"
Natalia bent one knee beneath her and sat next to Olivia on the bed. "Yup. I'm all yours. What's up?"
"You mean it?" Olivia pouted a little.
"That you're all mine. You mean it?"
Natalia frowned a bit and looked through her eyelashes at Olivia. "Of course. Is everything alright? Are you missing your sidekick already?"
Pierce had left for the airport a few hours earlier, after a three day visit that left them aching from all the laughter. Even Emma had been sad to see her go. "No, no. I mean, yes, but I'm fine. I just... Pierce and I talked before she left."
"And?" Natalia brushed a hair from Olivia's face.
"There's still some things... I haven't let myself think about. That I need to, if we're going to... move forward. Try for another baby. All that."
Olivia rubbed the bridge of her nose, then her neck, and Natalia let her. All the little tics Olivia had, they were like a ritual, a walkthrough she had to complete before tackling any serious issue. And the other woman knew it as well as she did, so when her hands came to a rest in her lap, Natalia finally spoke. "Such as?"
"I think... I've finally mourned what was. We had a baby, we had Isabella, and she died. We lost her. I ran from her, from you, from this family... to the bottle. I did terrible things I'm not proud of. But I still haven't let myself think about... what would have been. What... we would have had, if Isabella had survived. If I hadn't turned to... alcohol. To drugs."
Natalia took a deep breath and examined Olivia's face. Her eyes remained steady and dry. Then she slowly raised her hands to Olivia's face, caressing her cheeks with delicate fingers. She let her fingertips dance across lips and eyelids for a minute before she stopped and held tightly onto the other woman. "You mean, what she might've looked like? What kind of little girl would she be? Would she cry a lot? Would she smile a lot?"
Olivia nodded. Her voice was quiet and raspy. "Do you ever think about those things?"
She smiled. "Every day. Every single day. It used to hurt. It would stop me in my tracks, sometimes, in the middle of whatever I was doing. I'd have to sit, or kneel down, just to keep going. But not anymore, sweetheart. I mean, maybe it still hurts a little, but nothing like it used to. Now it kinda feels like a fond memory, like something a long time ago, that makes me smile. She's happy, Olivia. She's in heaven. She's our little angel."
"I think," Olivia whispered. She wiped at the tears at the corners of her eyes. "She would've been beautiful. She would've grown fast, too fast, and she'd have too much hair. Big looping curls of that dark brown hair. And your eyes. God, your eyes."
Natalia breathed a laugh. "And she would've been loud, like you. Crying all the time, laughing all the time. She'd be a little flirt, too. Another horrible trait from you."
"Frank's ugly feet."
Now they both laughed. "Probably. Ugh, probably. But she'd be so smart. I'd stay home with her and teach her something new every day, and you'd come home from work and we'd show it off."
Olivia moved to fill the space between them, pulling Natalia in for a kiss. "And what would she call us? When I'd run in the door--"
"And throw your coat on the couch like you always do? Even though I hate it?"
"Exactly," Olivia smiled. "What would I hear in the kitchen?"
Natalia bit her lip. "Well, you're 'Mommy' and I'm 'Mama'... obviously."
"Obviously? Okay. So you and Emma and Isabella in the kitchen?"
"We'd throw our arms around you, and Emma would tell you all about her day..."
Olivia sighed. "Can she never grow up in our fantasy? I am not ready for her to be a teenager."
Natalia nodded furiously. "Of course, yes. That's why it's called a fantasy. And you'd never complain about the vegetables I make you eat, and Isabella would sleep all the way through the night every time, and I'd never gain a pound, and--"
"That part's reality," Olivia laid back against the pillows and pulled Natalia down with her, the weight of the other woman on top of her an easy feat. "You're so sexy."
"I'm all sweaty," Natalia grimaced a little but let Olivia kiss her neck. "I'm... oh."
Olivia laughed into Natalia's hair. "You like that?"
Natalia groaned impatiently. "What do you think? Mmm."
After torturing Natalia with strategically placed kisses and nips, Olivia slowed her movements and drew her arms tightly around the other woman's waist. She slid Natalia off to her side to look into her eyes. "So it's okay to miss her? To miss what might've been? It won't... keep me from loving a new baby?"
Natalia shook her head before she burrowed it in the crook of Olivia's neck. "No, not one bit. It won't just be any new baby, besides. It'll be our baby. Yours and mine."
Olivia bounced an eyebrow. "I kinda like the sound of that."
"Mmhmm, I knew you would. You possessive, territorial..."
"You make me sound like some jungle caveman."
Olivia barked with laughter. "Ah, that feels like a hundred years ago. Tarzan, Jane? Jane, Jane?"
"I think you're a little of both, to be honest. And that makes me so hot for you."
They both went flush at Natalia's frankness. A growl escaped Olivia's lips. "It's kind of frustrating that I can't just knock you up right here."
Natalia drew a sharp intake of breath, and Olivia began backtracking. "Sorry, that's not what I meant."
"No," Natalia pushed Olivia onto her back once again and swiftly straddled her. "Am I totally awful? I've never wanted to be knocked up by somebody so badly in my life."
Olivia's eyes went wide. "We're all alone. Emma's at Phillip's. We could... practice?"
Natalia lowered herself until every inch of her body was pressed against Olivia. "Help me get out of these clothes."